The German dumpling guide

Dumpling = Knödel = Kloß = Klops

Today I’m celebrating the dumpling with two traditional German dumpling recipes. One uses bread, the other potatoes. But first, I feel obliged to give you a bit of background knowledge before you attempt making them yourselves.

In Germany, dumplings are called Knödel, Klops or Kloß and come in heaps of different shapes and sizes. Ingredients vary from region to region, whereas in North Germany and Bavaria they prefer Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings), in South-Western Germany Semmelknödel (bread dumplings) are the more popular choice. There are dumplings made from fl0ur and sweet dumplings such as Marillenknödel (apricot dumplings) and Quarklöße (quark dumplings). Meat-based dumplings are also popular.

Dumplings are delicious and quite cheap to produce but I don’t think they’re easy to make. It takes some time to perfect one’s dumpling-making technique which needs to be practiced from time to time. Dumplings are all about their ability to soak up sauces. That’s why mine usually get cut up into pieces as soon as they reach the plate followed by loads and loads of sauce.

My favourite, Semmelknödel (bread dumplings) are made from stale bread rolls, cut into small cubes, combined with eggs, milk, salt, pepper, nutmeg and plenty of  parsley, then poached in salted water.

Semmelknödel are great with dark, rich and meaty sauces such as goulash, Sauerbraten, red wine based sauces, wild mushroom ragout, with lentils or just cut into slices and fried with a beaten egg.

The word ‘Semmel’ is South-German and means ‘bread roll’. It stands for a specific type of bread roll, made from white flour, yeast and water, baked until crispy. The very delicious Bavarian Semmelknödel variety requires the use of Bavarian pretzels.

Semmelknödel are the most tasty Knödels, but making them takes some effort and the process should ideally be started 2 days in advance.

Semmelknödel Recipe:

6  good quality bread rolls
250 ml milk
4 medium sized eggs
nutmeg, salt, pepper
optional: flour

Cut the bread rolls into very small cubes and spread them onto a tray to dry. When dry, add them to a bowl, add one teaspoon of salt and the 2 eggs. Mix well.
In a small pan, heat the milk until warm and pour at once over the egg and bread mix. Knead well, but don’t mush up the bread-cubes’ texture.
Add spices and herb. Season well.
If your mix is too wet , add one or two teaspoons of plain flour.

Form the dumpling, the picture above shows the raw dumplings before they go into the hot water.
Prepare a pot with simmering, salted water and poach the dumplings for 15-20 minutes, making sure the water never comes to a boil.

Kartoffelknödel (potato dumplings) are also lovely, but slightly more sticky to the tongue and heavier altogether. They’re difficult to make. It can be hard to get the consistency right. Kartoffelknödel should be very light, and fluffy enough to soak up a sauce. The way of making them differs across Germany. Up North, raw grated potatoes are combined with cooked ones, making the dumplings quite fluffy. Whereas further South, a starchy potato variety is used on its own, combined with egg and flour. Just like Semmelknödel, the potato dumplings are then very carefully poached in salted water.

Kartoffelknödel recipe:

1000 g cooked potatoes
500 g raw potatoes
100 g breadcrumbs
1 egg
1 l milk, hot
White pepper
2 white bread slices
20 g lard

Cover the kilo of potatoes with water and bring  to boil. Drain off and leave to cool (it is probably best to do this the day before as the potatoes won’t cool down for a while)
Grate the other potatoes and squeeze them really well, so they’re dry as a bone.
Put the boiled potatoes through a press, add bread crumbs, egg, hot milk, salt and pepper and knead the entire mix into a dumpling dough.

Cut the white bread into small cubes. Then heat the lard in a pan. Make some light-brown croutons.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Start forming the dumplings with wet hands. Add one of the croutons to the middle of the
dumpling and close the dumpling well.

Test-cook one of your dumplings, let it poach for at least 30 mins. When good (i.e. light AND fluffy)
cook the rest of the dumplings and take them from the water with a slotted spoon.

Dumplings NEED sauce, as already mentioned, something dark and rich goes best.